Malcolm, Russiagate and the FBI


NBC is hawking a wild tale about Black Identity Extremists, scheming Russians, and military training camps in Africa. 

By the FBI’s definition, damn near all Black folks are Black Identity Extremists.”

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses. The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. This is the press, an irresponsible press. If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”Malcolm X

On May 20, the day after Malcolm’s birthday, NBC correspondent Richard Engel posted a breathless report , claiming to possess documents showing “Russian operatives” hatched a plot to “recruit African Americans with criminal records, giving them sabotage training at camps in Africa and returning them to the U.S.  Another proposal: encouraging African Americans to push for independent statehood in the South.”

Over footage of Black Lives Matter demonstrations, Engel said his sources linked the plot to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian catering magnate often referred to in U.S. media as “Putin’s chef.” Prigozhin was among the 13 Russians  indicted by Robert Muellter for allegedly “communicat[ing] with unwitting individuals” on social media with the aim of disrupting U.S. politics.

Engel posted a report showing ‘Russian operatives’ hatched a plot to ‘recruit African Americans with criminal records, giving them sabotage training at camps in Africa.’”

Engel said NBC got the documents from a Russian “investigative group” called The Dossier Center, which has “in the past revealed authentic material to us.” What Engel neglected to tell viewers is that the Dossier Center is financed by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once the richest oligarch in Russia, who is now the world’s most prominent Putin-hater after spending a decade in prison before being released to exile in Switzerland, where he coordinates a steady stream of anti-Russia propaganda and intrigue that is lustily consumed by U.S. and European corporate media. 

The Dossier Center/Khodorkovsky allegation is tailor-made to fit the political profile of so-called “Black Identity Extremists” concocted by the FBI to repackage and resurrect Cointelpro in the Black Lives Matter era. According to a 2017 Intelligence Assessment  by the Bureau:

“The FBI defines black identity extremists as individuals who seek, wholly or in part, through unlawful acts of force or violence, in response to perceived racism and injustice in American society, and some do so in furtherance of establishing a separate black homeland or autonomous black social institutions, communities, or governing organizations within the United States.” (emphasis mine)

“The FBI concocted ‘Black Identity Extremists’ to repackage and resurrect Cointelpro.”

Note that, by the FBI’s political reckoning, Black Identity Extremists include not only those who call for outright secession of liberated southern territories from the United States, but also advocates of autonomous black social institutions, communities, or governing organizations within the United States” – a definition that encompasses demands for community control of police, schools, or any other “governing” or even “social institutions” in the U.S. By such definition, damn near all Black folks are Black Identity Extremists.

In an extended, print report for NBC , Engel does inform readers of the exiled Khodorkovsky’s involvement. He then delivers a one-paragraph history vignette designed to give credence to the claim that Russians are the Rasputins behind Black American yearnings for self-determination:

“The idea of African American statehood has an intellectual precedent in Russia. During the early 20th century, communists in America proposed forming a ‘black-belt nation’ in the South. Some party members traveled to the Soviet Union for training.”

“’Black Identity Extremists’ include those who advocate autonomous black social institutions, communities, or governing organizations within the United States”.

Engel assumes the “Russian connection” — in this case, Soviet — is damning to all involved. But the truth is, during the 1930s the Communist Party USA was, by some estimates, as much as 25 percent Black. Many of the Black members were drawn to the Party by its position on self-determination for the “Black Belt.” Although Marcus Garvey was deported from the U.S. in 1927, his Universal Negro Improvement Association had galvanized Black nationalist aspirations throughout the country, and some of his followers wound up in the Communist Party. The CPUSA leadership were never comfortable with the “Black Belt” positionwhich was adopted in accordance with the Soviet policy to allow autonomy, or even secession, to national groups within the borders of formerly Tsarist Russian territories.

By 1956, the FBI was bragging  that the CPUSA “had failed to attract even a significant minority of the Negroes in the United States to its program.” Actually, a decade of frenzied red-baiting had driven away all but the most committed members of all races. But the Party’s Black self-determination position had attracted far more Black people than it repelled. The Party finally dropped  its “Black Belt” stance in 1959. But in 1956, while concluding that the CPUSA was weak in Black America, J. Edgar Hoover launched a new program of surveillance and disruption: COINTELPRO, based on the assumption that “communists” had infiltrated the growing civil rights movement. “Black separatists,” loosely defined, would soon be at the top of the target list. Some of them would advocate a Black State in the South, but freedom fighters like Denmark Vesey (1822) and Nat Turner (1831) long ago had plans for Black Belt liberation – by knife and fire  — without benefit of the Soviets. Richard Engel and his ilk are simply acting as annexes to the FBI’s updated COINTELPRO, repackaged as Black Identity Extremism, in the context of the New McCarthyism of Russiagate. 

The CPUSA leadership were never comfortable with the ‘Black Belt’ position.”

And like the Old McCarthyism, with its red-baiting Black collaborators (most notably, the NAACP under Roy Wilkins), the Congressional Black Caucus is ever-ready to prove its allegiance to U.S. empire.

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